Why you should learn a foreign language, you may ask. In case you have not noticed, globalization is taking the world by storm. With a vast opening of opportunities worldwide and the competition in the workforce is fierce, adding a second language can make your advancement faster.
We have compiled a list with a few descriptions of the challenges to convince you on which language you might consider studying. It is categorized accordingly depending on its difficulty level so you can anticipate the time you need to devote in.
Category I: 23-24 weeks (570-600 hours)
French is the official language of 29 countries and is spoken by roughly 200 million speakers all over the world. It has made a solid mark throughout history as a language choice in commerce, diplomacy, literature and scientific standards. Bloomberg Businessweek also quoted French as one of the top three useful languages in the business field. Lastly, French is considered in the top 10 most powerful languages in the world.
The first struggle for beginners is perfecting or, even just pronouncing the nasal ‘r’ primarily because we do not use it to make a sound. Next is the French ‘u’, which will be the bane of your studies. Spelling will be another thing for there are letters or words which are dropped or unpronounced. And I am not even getting started with the conjugations!
Italian is considered as a native language by 65 million speakers and 14 million as a second language. It is another language with Latin roots is profoundly associated with the world of arts. If you are one of the strong patrons of the art or considering to work in such field, then this is the language for you.
Similar to its counterparts, Italian language follows nouns or objects with gender which can be totally confusing. It also has multiple prepositions and perplexing tenses. On a lighter note, Italian is less difficult in pronunciation compared to French.
Spanish is the third widely used language in the world with estimated 400 million speakers. It is the official language of Spain and 19 countries in Latin America. So, if you have plans to visit those countries in that specific region, or planning to tap the Latin America work and business opportunities, then this language is for you.
Verb tense is one of the major challenges in learning Spanish. For starters, it has 2 past simple tense. English only has 1. Subjunctive forms are also complex beyond comparison. To make it simple, the rules of Spanish have variations in English. To get used to it will be a constant struggle for students.
Portuguese is proclaimed as the national language in 7 countries and has a total of 260 million speakers worldwide. One of those 7 countries is Brazil, the largest country in South America and in Latin America. Brazil is also the 5th largest country in the world. Aside from its economic advantages, learning Portuguese can ease the way in learning Spanish as well due to its almost similar accuracies.
The main challenge in learning Portuguese is it’s different 9 vowel and 19 consonant sounds. Grammar wise, the use of double negatives in sentences can be confusing at the beginning of the course. On a lighter note, Portuguese grammar is more flexible than in English that it is often saluted for it gives more importance in expressions rather than in grammar.
Category II: 30 weeks (750 hours)
Hailed as the third world largest economy, learning German is like your gateway to today’s business powerhouse. Its roots can be traced in Latin and Greek origins, with a few derivatives in French and English. Currently, German is being spoken by 120 million people as their principal and second language.
Unlike its neighbors, German has quite broad of dialects included in its structure. Vocabulary wise, German has rich and quite numerous words in which can be a gift or a challenge when trying to explain things (it is quoted as the language of philosophers after all). Verbs are conjugated in a more complex way than usual and Nouns has a different rule altogether.
Fortunately, there are options on how you can study these days. One, you can check out the affiliated language center of different embassies here in the country. For a more affordable option, UP Diliman offers DEL Extramural language courses. Lastly, you can also check private tutors for more flexible and intensive lessons.
Stay tuned for the next post for we will discuss Asian languages!
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